Beech-trees

“Here for the first time he took heart to hope
For safety, and to trust his destiny more
Even in affliction.” The Aeneid, I, Virgil

The great city of Troy has fallen in an inferno of death and destruction. Having lost his wife, Aeneas embarks on an Odysseus-like voyage across the Mediterranean with a small band of fellow refugees. Finally they are shipwrecked on the shores of Carthage, in the realm of queen Dido. Aeneas, a pious and dutiful man, has been stretched to the breaking point. But his patron, the goddess Venus, has appeared to him and veiled his entry into the new city. Aeneas’s heart is renewed in hope, and trust, even in affliction.

To hope and trust even in affliction requires much of us. Aeneas ‘took heart to hope.’ Such taking heart is a matter of will. Hoping well is a disposition that we can cultivate. We might begin by asking ourselves: what is the basis of our hope, and what can we do to hope better?

For a fuller reflection on hope in the new year, please see my post today at Aleteia.

Virgil (70-19 B.C.) is the great Roman poet, author of The Aeneid and The Georgics. In the Divine Comedy Virgil appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory.

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